The Senate on March 3 passed significant legislation to protect Washington state’s orcas and the marine waters they call home.
The two measures are part of the Salish Sea Protection package introduced by Sen. Kevin Ranker.
“The Puget Sound resident orca population has dropped to one of its lowest levels ever. We must do everything in our power to protect these incredible whales on the brink of extinction,” said Ranker. “This bill ensures our children will continue to enjoy the wonder and beauty of watching these magical creatures.”
“We have built an incredible quality of life in our state, but today, that quality of life and our environment is significantly threatened by the dramatic increase of oil transportation tankers moving across the Salish Sea,” said Ranker. “This will strengthen our state oil spill prevention program by providing the resources needed and work with our Canadian neighbors to provide critical transboundary protection.”
The Orca Whale Protection Act (SB 5886) passed the Senate 34-15.
This legislation bolsters orca protection laws by requiring boats to give orcas an adequate buffer. The new laws are intended to decrease noise pollution. The bill also provides funding for improved education and enforcement by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and calls for a trans-boundary discussion of orca whale protection and preservation. A $5 increase for an endangered wildlife special license plate helps fund the efforts.
The Salish Sea Protection Act (SB 6269) passed the Senate 42-7.
This legislation will provide additional funding for Washington state oil spill prevention and response activities, update our geographical response plans, and provide funding to research and make recommendations for both tug escorts and a stationed, rescue tug for all vessels carrying large quantities of oil across the Salish Sea. It calls for a significant increase in coordination with our Canadian neighbors.
Both bills head to the House of Representatives for further consideration.